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Concordia» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A short review of a philosophical gem of game (everything in moderation) rss

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CARL SKUTSCH
United States
New York
New York
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Check out Clockwork Wars. It's a pretty darn good dudes on a hex map Euro'ish steampunk game. Quick and fun.
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What is it?

You have a map, colonists, trade houses, resources (brick, food, tools, wine, cloth) and personality cards. You play one personality card each turn, performing its allowed actions (spreading colonists, building trade houses, collecting resources, buying new personality cards, etc). That's it. That's the elegant brilliance of this game. You play a card, do its actions, done, next player!

At the end of the game you score points for each personality card you have based on what stuff you have. Some cards give you bonuses for certain kinds of resource cities, others for having colonists, etc. So your strategy is determined, in part, by what cards you've purchased. Again, elegent.

The look and theme.

Well, it's pretty darn themeless. I mean, resource collecting in the Mediterranean, sure, but it could be anything. The cards are labelled "Tribune" and "Senator" and "Diplomat" but they could be anything too.

Still, I don't mind (and I generally like more theme in my games). The look of the game helps. The box art is bland/awful but the game itself is quite attractive. Clean pretty maps, nice shaped wooden pieces for resources, basic people/ship shapes for the colonists. The cards, even though generic in behavior, have a Roman feel to them.

Conclusion

It's just a darn fun game. From the start you're busy mapping out your strategy, where to colonize, what resources to collect, what cards to shoot for. Is it time to play my Tribune card, and so regain all my played cards, or not? (The Tribune card recycling mechanic is very clever, I've only seen it before in Mission: Red Planet (second edition).) The game mechanics all take some brain work to do properly so the game is a challenge, but it's not so mathy that you're left with a fried brain at the end. It also doesn't wear out its welcome. The game ends when either a player buys his/her last house or the last personality card is bought. Either event happens at a reasonable moment (after maybe an hour with 2 players) and you can see it coming, no sudden shocks (well, once I bought 4 trading houses in one turn, shocking my wife a bit, but she still beat me by 2 points).

There's also enough interaction to keep you on your toes. When another player builds a trading house in a city, you aren't blocked, but you'll have to pay more for your trading house. That kind of thing means you keep an eye on where they're going. Or if there's a particular card you want, you keep an eye on what resources your opponents have, can they buy it first? There's also the "Diplomat" personality card, which allows you to piggyback on others' actions.

There's no "take that" in this game, however, especially in a two player game, you can do things deliberately to mess up a player's plans. They want that Cloth personality card? You buy it to block their point gain! It's a far cry from open war but it's also no "I do my own thing on my own board" type of game. Other players matter.

All in all, a nice intellectual challenge on a pretty map with a reasonable amount of player interaction. It is an Epicurean exercise in restraint, an Emersonian embodiment of moderation.

Postscriptum

I'd recommend getting your hands on the expansions, especially Concordia: Salsa. The game is lovely without Salsa but Salsa adds salt, which is a cute wild card resource, and, more sexily, Tribune cards, which give players small special abilities. Like its name, Salsa adds just a bit more flavor.

(RECENSERE/EDIT) Ultima nota (Final Note)


I've given this game a bit of rave, however I do want to warn certain players away. If you're addicted to lots of action in your games. If you live for those big moments where you clinch the deal, buy the bank, nail down that triple chained card play, this doesn't happen in Concordia. Instead, each turn is rather like the other than not. For me, and my wife, this seemed like a delightful stroll through a lovely park, some trees over here, a pond over there; a turn might get you a smile of quiet satisfaction, but no giant thrills, no explosions. We found it pleasantly challenging. Others, however, might call this boring. Keep in mind if you think you might be that kind of player.
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Yves St-Denis
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Nice short review!

It is a lovely game: easy to learn (as far as rules are concerned... only 4 pages ), but with lots of thinking when you play!
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Phil Hendrickson
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Seward
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skutsch wrote:
...
I've given this game a bit of rave, however I do want to warn certain players away. If you're addicted to lots of action in your games. If you live for those big moments where you clinch the deal, buy the bank, nail down that triple chained card play, this doesn't happen in Concordia. Instead, each turn is rather like the other than not. For me, and my wife, this seemed like a delightful stroll through a lovely park, some trees over here, a pond over there; a turn might get you a smile of quiet satisfaction, but no giant thrills, no explosions. We found it pleasantly challenging. Others, however, might call this boring. Keep in mind if you think you might be that kind of player.


This is a very good point. Concordia is one of my top 3 favorite games, so I find it to be excellent. The challenge is to work out a long-range plan that is efficient, while observing your opponents to consider when to make a tactical diversion to mess with their plans. The choices are many but subtle - no thrilling explosions, as you say. (It is cool when I can build five or six houses on one turn, but that is pretty rare.) I have heard of people not liking this amazing game, and your final note likely explains why. Well said.
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Arthur Rutyna
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I gotta laugh just a little bit. I could tell just by looking at the box cover that there would be "no thrilling explosions" Hence, I wanted to dismiss this game right away (do a Tom Vasel on it). Fortunately, I had the chance to play it. And I enjoyed my "stroll through a lovely park."
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CARL SKUTSCH
United States
New York
New York
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Check out Clockwork Wars. It's a pretty darn good dudes on a hex map Euro'ish steampunk game. Quick and fun.
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Neo_1 wrote:
I gotta laugh just a little bit. I could tell just by looking at the box cover that there would be "no thrilling explosions" :) Hence, I wanted to dismiss this game right away (do a Tom Vasel on it). Fortunately, I had the chance to play it. And I enjoyed my "stroll through a lovely park." :)

As do I, clearly!

And don't get me wrong. I love some cool explosions in some games! There are plenty of Ameritrash dudes on a map games that make me happy. This just hits a different note. Also, there is some excitement and tension in the game, it's just of the more quiet variety (if that makes sense?).
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Russ Williams
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I think there are some big exciting turns (relatively, i.e. as this kind of euro goes - context is everything...!), e.g. building in 2 already occupied cloth cities in one turn, or buying a couple of crucial cards, or ending the game while opponents are not in a good state to do anything with their final turn, etc.

In any case, I'd been uninterested in the game because I (erroneously) assumed it uses rondels (like most of its creator's games) and I'm not into rondels. But a friend convinced us to try it (after pointing out that (1) it has no rondels and (2) its rules are frickin' minimalist and fast to learn) and we loved it. We're currently in our second period of having borrowed his copy from him and playing it 2-player every couple of days...
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CARL SKUTSCH
United States
New York
New York
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Check out Clockwork Wars. It's a pretty darn good dudes on a hex map Euro'ish steampunk game. Quick and fun.
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russ wrote:
I think there are some big exciting turns (relatively, i.e. as this kind of euro goes - context is everything...!), e.g. building in 2 already occupied cloth cities in one turn, or buying a couple of crucial cards, or ending the game while opponents are not in a good state to do anything with their final turn, etc.

In any case, I'd been uninterested in the game because I (erroneously) assumed it uses rondels (like most of its creator's games) and I'm not into rondels. But a friend convinced us to try it (after pointing out that (1) it has no rondels and (2) its rules are frickin' minimalist and fast to learn) and we loved it. We're currently in our second period of having borrowed his copy from him and playing it 2-player every couple of days... :)
Yeah, I was a little torn ahead of time too. I liked Imperial 2030 but really hated Antike Duellum (not a bad game, just totally not my kind of game). I was convinced to give Concordia a try by the Shut Up & Sit Down review. Glad I did!
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Mike Fogus
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russ wrote:
In any case, I'd been uninterested in the game because I (erroneously) assumed it uses rondels (like most of its creator's games) and I'm not into rondels.


I wouldn't be surprised if an early prototype version had a rondel. It would fit IMO. That said, I like the hand of cards very much and wouldn't want to change anything.
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Rinaldo De Lucca
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You can find the card recycling mechanic also in Famiglia (Accountants).
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